Review: The Shallows



Okay, so I’ve kinda neglected this blog for a while. Have had some personal things to deal with over the last few months that have been pretty tough. Things are much better now though so hopefully from now on I’ll be more active on it now. So lets kick things back off with a film I just finished watching about half an hour ago, shark thriller The Shallows.

In the decades since Jaws first terrified swimmers and cinema-goers alike, numerous studies have shown that sharks are not the malevolent killing machines that have been portrayed on screen. Instead, shark attacks are rarer than getting hit by lightning or winning the lottery. Or getting struck by lightning while winning the lottery I guess. So over the years, killer shark films have kinda  lost their edge and filmmakers rely on cheap tricks to try and draw audiences back to them. This has led to the current trend of shark films you get on the SyFy channel that revolve around various mutated sharks with titles like Four Arsed Shark Attack or something similar. There have been a couple of decent killer shark films over the years. In 1999, Deep Blue Sea gave us intelligent sharks with a taste for monologuing Samuel L Jacksons and while it wasn’t going to win any Oscars, it was a pretty damn entertaining cheesefest. In 2010 we got the Australian film The Reef, which I found to be the best killer shark film since Jaws. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, put down what you’re doing and go find it, its definitely worth it. It’s the shark film Open Water should have been (don’t get me started on that one).

I’m getting off track a bit so lets get on with this review. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this film. Its obviously nowhere near as good as Jaws, but it is definitely almost on par with The Reef. The plot is a simple but effective one. Surfer Nancy Adams, played by  Blake Lively, goes surfing on a remote beach, gets attacked by a huge great white shark and ends up on a rock far from shore, with the shark between her and safety, so she has to try and figure out how to save herself. Lively does a really good portraying a woman desperate to survive and I genuinely cringed when she was performing some self surgery on her shark attack wounds. There are a few other characters in the film, but thiey’re really only there to further the plot or at as fodder for the shark. The shark itself is seldom seen in the film, but the CGI used to render it is very impressive. It’s a scarred monster of a shark, given a real sense of sheer power and strength particularly towards the end of the film. You do have to suspend your disbelief a bit to fully enjoy this film, there’s a huge dead whale floating nearby and the shark is going after the swimsuit clad woman? Best not to think about it and enjoy the film. There is a wee bit of unnecessary fluff in the story about Nancys family and her dead mum but doesn’t really detract from the film at all. In the end, this film sets out to be a tense, entertaining shark film and it definitely succeeds in doing that. Definitely worth checking out if you like that kind of film.

Okay, before I go I have to say at least something about Open Water. I was really excited when I first heard about that film. Then I watched it. Ugh. Two people floating at sea for an hour and a half, one gets nibbled a bit, one throws up then they die. Riveting stuff. Seriously, watch The Reef or The Shallows instead. Or better yet, watch Jaws. Just don’t bother with Open Water.


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